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Unhappy with current contract, Garcia could consider retirement

As usual, Tampa Bay has quarterbacks coming and going, with futures in question, and answers coming as early as Thursday.

Its incumbent Pro Bowl quarterback, Jeff Garcia, told Sirius Satellite Radio on Wednesday that he is unhappy with the Buccaneers' treatment of him and he could walk away from the game.

"That's a frustration," Garcia said. "If it doesn't work itself out, if a contract is not presented as far as a renewal to finish my career, then I will seriously think about what my alternate options may be. And it may come to not playing football anymore.

"I feel like when you mistreat people there comes a time when it doesn't matter how much you are paid, it's going to lead to some drastic decisions."

Garcia repeated that he feels "taken advantage of." He has one year left on a contract that is scheduled to pay him $2 million, below market value for a Pro-Bowl quarterback. Despite the lack of progress for a new deal, Garcia admitted it would be difficult to walk away from the game now or after the season.

"I do believe that if I step away and let a contract to be a problem, an issue, a distraction, then I'm not going to grow within the system the way I need to grow," Garcia said. "So I just battle through it. There are days I'm not as excited to be there, I'll be honest."

While Garcia is pondering his gameplan, former Buccaneers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is waiting to find out where he will learn his future ones.

Gradkowski's claiming deadline is Thursday at 4 p.m. ET. Any team that claims him would get the quarterback and the bargain-like two years he has left on his contract -- $445,000 in base salary this season and $888,000 next season.

It would be cheaper to claim Gradkowski and keep his deal for the next two years than to sign him off the street for the same amount of time.

NFL personnel men think that any one of at least a half dozen teams could wind up putting in a waiver claim for Gradkowski –- St. Louis, Atlanta, Kansas City, New Orleans, Chicago or Detroit. NFL scouts like Gradkowski's feet, strength and character, but have questions about his arm and accuracy.

Still, for teams searching for a quarterback, Gradkowski is a feasible solution. One of the only reasons he would go unclaimed is because, without roster exemptions for NFL Europe, so many teams are struggling to reduce their rosters to 80 players and still must make a handful of cuts.

Tampa Bay did Gradkowski a service, but now it is facing a stalemate with its top quarterback. Garcia believes that, with a quarterback such as rookie first-round pick Matt Ryan signing a six-year, $72 million contract with Atlanta, he is underpaid.

But the Buccaneers believe they provided Garcia a chance to revive his career and, at the age of 38, there could be concerns about his durability. Garcia missed three games last season due primarily to a lower back injury. Those injuries prevented him from cashing in on a $1 million incentive he had for participating in 70 percent of the Buccaneers' offensive plays.

Garcia has voiced his displeasure throughout the offseason, but it grew to a new level Wednesday on Sirius.

"It would be really difficult to go through this season and not have something done before the season," Garcia said. "I would like to see the appreciation put out there."

Dancing around the issue

Fittingly, the Dolphins and defensive end Jason Taylor are tap dancing around the central issue about whether he will be in Miami this season.

One thing is certain: Taylor will not be in Miami this weekend, when the Dolphins will hold a mandatory minicamp. Taylor is scheduled to attend his brother's high school graduation in Pittsburgh.

So Taylor missed offseason conditioning drills for Dancing With the Stars, and he'll miss the mandatory minicamp for graduation, for which Dolphins coach Tony Sparano declined to say whether Miami would fine him.

"Those things, the fines, any of those kinds of things, whatever happens down the road with those things will stay between myself and the player," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said Wednesday.

Whether Taylor is fined is secondary to how his situation will unfold. But multiple people close to the situation still believe that, as long as another team ponies up a second- or third-round pick, the Dolphins will trade Taylor. Without any hesitation.

Each side can happy talk all it wants –- Sparano saying he wants Taylor to be a part of the team, Taylor saying he would welcome the chance to play in Miami -– but the truth is each would be happier without the other.

The only thing holding a divorce back is another team refusing to part with an attractive enough draft pick. Miami's football poobah Bill Parcells refuses to simply give away Taylor. But for the right price, each side can waltz away from the other.

A bolt from San Diego

When Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers tore his anterior cruciate ligament in January, doctors said it would be eight months before he would be ready to return to action.

Four months into his recovery, Rivers is already on the field, going through practice, acting as if he never tore up his knee.

Those who know Rivers best say he is a gym rat with an unmatched determination. They are not surprised by his quick comeback. But it is still impressive to the Chargers and anyone who follows Rivers.

"I was prepared to have him really not do anything except throw routes against air," Chargers head coach Norv Turner said earlier this week. "He's just making great progress."

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